Halt and Catch Fire: Season 1 (DVD) – Series Review
Follow Genre: Drama
Distributor: eOne
Episodes: 10
Duration: 41 min (per episode)

Halt and Catch Fire: Season 1 (DVD) – Series Review

Site Score
Good: Realistic atmosphere, Acting performances, Topic
Bad: Some main characters become rather unlikeable
User Score
(3 votes)
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Rating: 8.7/10 (3 votes cast)

Halt and catch fire might sound like a witch’s curse gone very wrong, but in reality it was a very old (joke) command, which made your PC stop doing anything useful, either needing a reboot or making it stop functioning at all. With this in mind, AMC developed a series that depicts itself in the eighties where one fictional company decides to do an attempt to overshadow IBM, the leader of the market at that time. Luckily we didn’t catch fire when halting to view the first season.


Cardiff Electric is a software development company in the eighties, that has been around for many years and does business the Texan way, thus resorting to ‘good bonds and kindness’ towards their partners, rather than cold hard numbers. The business does a reasonable job under the leadership of John Bosworth (Toby Huss) and the all seeing eye of the retired Nathan Cardiff (Graham Beckel), at least until Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) waltzes through the front door. This entrepreneur is looking for a new job, even though he used to work for IBM. He convinces John, thanks to his smooth talking, without even bring a resume to this job interview, but it does not last long before John regrets hiring him.

Joe has an elaborate plot to put Cardiff Electric on the map once and for all, even though it’s not clear if it’s for the good of the company or rather his own ego. To do that, he needs the help of the burnt out Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), to reverse engineer an IBM computer. Whilst Gordon is not that fond of the idea at first, Joe smooth talks his way into Gordon’s figurative pants, by mentioning Gordon’s failed project, which was ‘revolutionary’ of the time. Gordon soon finds himself in his garage reverse engineering one of IBM’s compatibles. Even though Joe promised Gordon it would be a secret, he leaks the information to IBM, which makes them visit Cardiff Electric soon after. Seeing this could become a huge lawsuit, Joe forces Cardiff Electric by stating they want to enter the PC market themselves and that every resemblance with IBM’s products is just a pure coincidence. Nonetheless, John is forced in a situation he does not like, but now he will have to steer this course if he does not want his company go down.

Nonetheless, seeing building a computer is more than hardware, it also needs the proper person or team to design the OS for the system and this is where Cardiff Electric falls short. This is where Joe brings in his ace in the hole, namely Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis), a young student who was scouted earlier by Joe. She has a lot more talent than many of those who have been working in the business for years and the fact that Joe happened to have sex with her, is just a small plus. Soon pretty much everything will fall into Joe’s, Cameron’s and Gordon’s hands in this struggle to build a giant to crush the competition.

The pace of Halt and Catch Fire is a lot slower than most series that get aired nowadays, as this series revolves around the difficult journey of creating something ‘new’, with very limited technology. Even though you’ll have to keep your wits about when watching the ten episodes of season one, it’s certainly a well made and interesting series that offers a change of pace from all the spectacular action and doomsday series that are flooding the channels.

This series has a lot of character evolution, which makes it in combination with the storyline simply amazing. You’ll see each character open up in its own way and you’ll get to learn the bad habits and sneaky behavior of other characters along the way. Whilst most characters become more likeable towards the end, there are those that you actually start to dislike when the credits of the last episode start rolling. With the open ending of the last episode we are pretty curious on how some characters will blossom, redeem themselves or fall even lower in their own personal hell.


Acting performances are outstanding, which was already clear seeing how most of the characters evolved throughout the limited time of ten episodes. Whilst the trio of lead characters get the most screen time, which they certainly deserve, there are those on the sidelines who give an extra edge to the series. Toby Huss, who plays John Bosworth, might be one of those actors who actually surprise you that much at times, that you forget about what everyone else is doing in the series. It’s easy to say that Toby steals the show at certain times and we were happy to see that he was still in the cast for the coming season(s). Kerry Bishé, who plays Gordon’s wife, is also a very important character and she plays her role outstanding as well.

The extras on this DVD release of the first season are hardly worth mentioning. Even though some features will offer you a bit of extra information about the setting, namely the eighties, there are not that many noteworthy special features. Also the fact that the publisher did not even do the effort of providing subtitles for the extra features says enough already.


Halt and Catch Fire is one of those gems that passed by quite silently when it was being broadcasted. The plot of the series proves to be original and well constructed, whilst being supported by a great cast from start to finish. Even though season one’s ending might have been a bit ‘too open’, we are hoping season two will get a DVD release in the near future. You’d might want to halt to take a look at this one.

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Rating: 8.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Halt and Catch Fire: Season 1 (DVD) - Series Review, 8.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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